I think we had to be in the front row because we couldn’t read. When the organ began, everyone else held up books that they took from the back of the pew in front of their row. There was no row in front of us and, therefore, no books for us. But, it didn’t matter because they were singing my favorite hymn, Number 1 in the thick book that didn’t have a single picture in it. I sang with my whole heart and loudest volume each time the song got to the line I knew, “Ho - ly, Ho - ly, Ho - o- ly. Lord God the Mighty*.” Each time I opened my mouth to sing my line, I looked up to see if the pastor was watching me. He was, with that beautiful smile that told me it was okay I didn’t know the rest of the song yet.
“Thank you, Sojourner, for that first memory of church,” the pastor said to the circle of kids in the “Fireside Room (which BTW had no fireplace).” It was the first after-school meeting of our confirmation class and everyone was supposed to answer his questions so he could get to know us. He was not the same pastor as the one in my shared memory; that one had probably retired. I was 11 years old and my sister was 13. She smiled at me and I just knew what she was thinking, how in the world can you remember all this stuff? I have no idea what my first memory of church was. She was not alone but other questions more easily answered were to follow.
Throughout the weeks of meeting with the pastor, I came to think of him as a friend and not someone to be feared. Before Confirmation Class, I figured the pastor was someone like the school Principal. You never saw him unless you were in trouble for misbehaving. I enjoyed learning the things he told us each week and my hunger for the Bible grew. Too often, though, the questions his lectures provoked had nothing at all to do with the subject at hand so I completed the course with a lot more questions needing answers.
I didn’t think that this quest for answers would really be any problem; I had friends who went to other churches. Therefore, they had other pastors who might just have some of the answers. I had been allowed to do the Confirmation Class a little early so I could be with my sister, which meant that my own friend still had Confirmation Classes ahead of them. I would just join their class!
Related Post: Life 101: Truth Sojourner, Sunday School, and the Birthday cake… in case you missed this one!
* The words should be "Lord God Almighty" but this is how it sounds to a 3-year-old!
****Authority Figures: Pastors, Scene 2… Coming Tomorrow